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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

"A PERFECTLY GOOD SECURITY"   217

because " a perfectly good security is given for the
money received/' would seem rather futile to those
who paid £1000 and received a security, the present
value of which might be below ^10. They might
very likely think that outright confiscation (since
confiscation originally means nothing but " putting
into the Treasury ") is really a simpler way of dealing
with the problem. " Ex-M.P.," however, estimates
that the immediate redemption of £2800 millions of
debt (which he, rather modestly, expects to be the
result of his 20 per cent, levy) would enable the
balance of the War Debt to be converted into 3| per
cent, stock. This may be true, but if so it is equally
true if a similar or larger amount of debt is cancelled
by means of an outright Levy on Capital.

The merits and demerits of a Levy on Capital have
already been dealt with in the pages of this Journal.
" Ex-M.P.," however, brought forward a slightly
novel form of argument in its favour. He pointed
out that the money constituting the great increase
in debt that has taken place during the war will have
been, in the main, contributed by people who have
worked at home under the protection of the Army
and Navy, while the soldiers and sailors have been
prevented by the duty which sent them out to risk
their lives from subscribing a proportionate share to
the National Debt. Hence " a class that deserves
most of the State will find itself indebted to a class
which—if it does not deserve least of the State—has,
at any rate, turned a national emergency to personal
profit/' This is a strong argument, which has been
used frequently in the course of the war in the pages